Category Archives: Yellow Pages

Posts related to the Yellow Pages or Local Search Industry

View from Condo in Toronto

816 Days … A Roadmap of Change

Originally posted on LinkedIn. If you want to view or comment there, here is the link.

In 2009 and 2010, I had a hand in developing a narrative and helping with the M&A activity that lead to the creation of Mediative. This became the national agency of Yellow Pages Canada. It was a company that was put together through a number of acquisitions which at the time allowed us to scale a national ad network business, shopper marketing business and enterprise services businesses. On January 6, 2014 I took over the role as President of Mediative.

This post is not about Mediative, but rather the story of my journey with the business and the lessons that I learned along the way. In 2013, Mediative was facing some big challenges. Many of the original founders of the acquired companies had left, many of the senior leadership had moved on, the AutoTrader property was no longer part of the portfolio (which eliminated high-valued display inventory), and the rest of the agency world had caught up when it came to data, programmatic and local based advertising. In addition, Yellow Pages Canada had just announced a new CEO, which meant there was a new corporate strategy to consider.

Despite all these challenges, the opportunity to lead the company through this transition came with a pretty impressive foundation to build from that included:

  • a 120+ person agency in 4 offices,
  • leading some of the most unique shopper marketing programs in Canada for the largest retailers,
  • still considered a leader in intent data for the purposes of programmatic advertising,
  • having one of the best enterprise SEM/SEO teams in Canada that serviced customers globally, and
  • having one of the best usability labs in the country

By April 2016, I had moved back to Yellow Pages core. By then I had successfully transformed Mediative into a different company. The Mediative team had accomplished our goals of growing digital revenue, generating profit, becoming masters at forecasting, changing the corporate culture and giving a new generation of leaders a chance to make their impact. It was an incredible journey.

When sharing my experiences at Mediative with other agency Presidents in Canada, US and Internationally, some key elements always seemed to resonate with people. I have summarized these below.

My time with Mediative consisted of a total of 816 days. I have divided this time into 4 distinct segments.

My first 100 Days

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My Conversation About Yellow Pages Transformation with Phoenix Group

Had the pleasure last week to spend 30-mins with David Bellerive and Kevin Hayes of the Phoenix Group chatting about local business challenges and the transformation that Yellow Pages Canada has been under going.

If you want to listen to the podcast, head over the Phoenix Group website and check it out.

Intelligent Chat Bots and a Look Back At Canada’s First

Chat Bots are back, good bots anyway and have started to gain some traction in the marketplace with more and more people speaking about the business implications. With Facebook’s announcement at F8 the spotlight has risen and over the course of the next year I am sure we will see lots of activity in this space.

The full list of FB 2016 Messenger Partners shows an interesting mix of use cases. I believe the applications that offer commerce and/or customer service elements are actually the most useful. The news based feeds are interesting and important for publishers to test out as another means to get in front of eyeballs but if they don’t add anymore value than simply a feed of content – not sure this will be as useful.

If you look at the list of Bots available on the Kik Platform, I think there are some interesting applications. For example, Wirkin to find a job, H&M for clothing inspiration, and of course the Weather Channel (because we need more ways to know the forecast).

Another interest space to watch is the Bot Platforms that allows you to build and host bots to integrate with the various end-user applications. For example, Meya.io is a platform player based in Waterloo, Ontario who is doing some interesting work on creating a platform for any company to quickly deploy bots for a variety of use cases. Another interesting platform is Pandorabots who are really helping businesses open up a new way to communicate with their customers.

An exciting space for sure. To the title of my post, back in 2006, I was involved in a product to launch Canada’s first MSN Message Bot for finding location. Yellow Pages Group partnered with a company called Illumicell (which became Poynt) who had a partnership with Microsoft and we launched YellowBuddy in 2006. It was a very interesting use case for us to understand how many people would use a Messenger platform in order to retrieve local information. We had a future plan of eventually being able to book, buy and deliver but our ambitions at the time where larger than the market was ready.

I think we where a little too far ahead of the curve. The big game changer today is smartphones and mobile adoption. For those of you interesting, I have including some screenshots below of the original application. If you want to see all the screenshots, click on MORE tab. Hope you enjoy a little walk down history.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 11.31.51 AM

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 11.33.59 AM

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Yellow Pages Acquires Juice Mobile

Yellow-Pages-JUICE-Mobile-Header

During my 10-years with Yellow Pages Canada, I have had the opportunity to be involved with many acquisitions, ranging from SuperPages, AutoTrader, RedFlagdeals to name just a few. Having identified this opportunity and being part of the core team leading this acquisition, I am very excited to see that we have completed the transaction to acquire Juice Mobile. See official press release.

As stated by Julien Billot, this acquisition is very complimentary to our existing business units and will further help us transform ourselves into Canada’s leading “Canadian owned” digital company servicing both small and medium sized business as well as our agency partners and their national brand advertisers.

Here are some online writings from various sources about this acquisition.

MarketingMag – Yellow Pages Acquires Juice Mobile
ITBusiness – Yellow Pages acquires Toronto-based Mobile Advertising firm Juice Mobile
MediaPost – Yellow Pages in Canada acquires Juice Mobile for Programmatic Technology
MobyAffiliates – Yellow Pages acquires Juice Mobile for $35M
Financial Post – Yellow pages deal applauded, but stock downgraded on valuation
Media in Canada – Yellow Pages snaps up Juice Mobile
BIA Kelsey – Juice Mobile Drives Yellow Pages Canada Deeper into Programmatic

My Appointment as President of Mediative, Yellow Media’s National Division

Today was a pretty exciting day for me. After 8-years with Yellow Pages Group in various roles I have been announced as President of Mediative. This will be my largest challenge yet in my professional career but one in which I am very much looking forward to tackling.

What I am most looking forward to is working with the incredible talent that exists within this organization. As one of the people involved in helping craft the Mediative story for YPG back in 2009 with Patrick Lauzon and Stephane Marceau it is a privilege to now being able to take the reigns to further continue the success this organization has achieved.

I am definitely humbled by all the people who have reached out who are excited about this announcement and their words of encouragement. To everybody who has done this, I appreciate you taking the time to send me a note of congratulations.

Here is a list of sources that have covered my announcement. The links below are more for my personal record but feel free to click through.

Darby Sieben Appointed President of Mediative

Darby Sieben Appointed President of Mediative

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Google Premier SMB Video – Yellow Pages Group Canada

In May of this year we announced a new deal with Google to become their third and largest Premium SMB Partner in Canada.

I can finally announce that the partnership video with Google is now live and on YouTube. You can see Doug Clarke, Nicolas Gaudreau and myself explain this partnership and what it means for local businesses in Canada.